Geochemistry capabilities within the Hydrologic Sciences are focused principally on rock-water interactions that affect water quality and dissolved constituent transport whereas water quality capabilities are focused on the impact that anthropogenic activities have had on ground water and surface water. A combination of field-scale tests, monitoring and evaluation capability, dedicated laboratory facilities and numerical modeling capability are used to address a diverse set of geochemical and water quality research topics. Research including: (a) radiochemistry and radionuclide transport, (b) depleted uranium, metals and organics transport, (c) geothermal reservoir characterization and water supply evaluation, (d) geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide and geothermal resource development, and (e) water quality and quantity issues in urban runoff, rivers, canals, and lakes have been previously been funded by the US Departments of Energy, Defense, and Interior as well as various private companies and state and local governments.
The research conducted by the geochemistry and water quality group have led to advances in analytical analysis techniques for arsenic, improved estimates for subsurface radionuclide transport, more efficient conveyance of surface irrigation water through canals, and an improved understanding of surface water degradation caused by the development and transport of nutrients and sediment. This research has resulted in an engineering capability that has produced several new radiological and thermal profiling sensors. Results from DHS research studies have been used to assess and mitigate environmental risks and have been incorporated into environmental management documents, such as that used by Lake Tahoe basin managers to restore the clarity of Lake Tahoe. Many geochemistry and water quality researchers also teach and advise graduate students within the Nevada System of Higher Education universities.